Self-Defense Tips for the Solo Female Traveller

As a black belt in martial arts, as well as a former martial arts instructor, ladies self-defense instructor, and a female solo traveller, I highly recommend that some form of self-defense class be taken before taking your first solo trip.

It is always beneficial to have some self-defense moves stowed away in your back pocket and get some much needed self-defense tips for women. Not that I want to scare you off from travelling alone, but so many things can happen. It’s not uncommon to get lost at some point during your travels, and pickpocketing is a huge problem in many countries. It is wise to know how to deal with these issues by knowing basic safety tips.

Should I Take a Self-Defense Class if Travelling Solo?

I know that this is a subject that not many women want to hear about, but my motto is “better safe than sorry”.  I truly believe that most people in this world are kind and honorable, but there is the odd badass out there.  My intention certainly is not to scare you off of travelling solo.  That is the last thing that I want to do, as travelling solo is the most liberating thing that you will ever do, and for the most part it is extremely safe.  I am also not saying that something bad will happen to you because it likely won’t, but there is always that very slight chance and when you are a woman travelling solo it is best to be as prepared as possible.

When travelling solo, we are completely dependent on ourselves for our own safety.  The best form of self-defense is always first and foremost … AVOIDANCE!  For basic precautions to take when travelling alone, or even when travelling with a travel partner, refer to Let’s Get Ready for Takeoff.  Together with AVOIDANCE, it is also extremely important to be aware of your surroundings at all times and show an extreme amount of confidence (whether you feel it or not).  Attackers usually seek out vulnerable looking people, which unfortunately are typically solo female travellers, so it is important to always look alert.

In the unfortunate event that you find yourself in a precarious situation, it is helpful to know some of the following self-defense moves.  These self-defense moves are basic and can be learned in depth by taking a women’s basic self-defense class.

Self-Defense Awareness for the Female Solo Traveller

Before I begin, you should be aware that if you are a female travelling alone and you are physically attacked, there is more than a pretty good chance that it won’t be by another female. It is only natural for our male counterparts to out-perform us women with their superior physical strength. Because of this, it is imperative that we always remain calm and out-think our attacker.  Here are some basic self-defense tips to put in your bag of tricks should you find yourself in trouble during your travels:

Self Defense for Frontal Attacks

If you are attacked from the front, it is always important to keep your balance throughout the attack.  The last place you want to end up is on the ground!  In order to do this effectively, make every attempt to keep your upper body centered over your feet.  If at all possible, make yourself more stable by keeping your feet spread approximately 1 foot apart, with your upper body centered in between your feet.  This is known as the center of gravity.  If you are not centered, there is a very good chance that you will be thrown off balance, and potentially even fall.

when travelling solo, be prepared to fight back
Don’t be afraid to fight back!

If your attacker is close and you are unable to escape, make him become your best friend.  Stay as close to him as you possibly can!  By doing this you  will be in a position to utilize your maximum amount of strength.  Imagine yourself picking up a heavy package with your arms out-stretched in front of you.  How difficult is that?  How much strength do you have just using your arms?  The same theory is applied in this situation.  Since it is likely that your attacker will have superior physical strength, you will need to use your maximum strength, engaging your entire body as you defend yourself.

JUST ONE TIP: If you are unable to escape, stay as close to your attacker as possible. He has now just become your new best friend.

In addition, the closer you are to your attacker the less opportunity he will have to strike out at you, grab you or choke you.  You will be limiting his attack options.

The following are some basic self-defense tips that can greatly increase your chances of escaping your attacker:

  • STAY CALM and be patient
  • Wait until your attacker is slightly distracted and “shock the system”See below for various ways to “shock the system”.
  • Take advantage of his loosened grip and run like hell
  • Make lots of noise when running away to bring attention to the situation.  Do not yell “rape”, as most people do not respond to that.

As you may have already guessed, a frontal attack is the easiest attack to defend yourself against.

Self-Defense for Rear Attacks

Being attacked from the rear is much more difficult to defend against, as it is the attacker’s intention to take you by surprise.  This is where AVOIDANCE and AWARENESS come in handy.  However, if you do find yourself in this situation, the same rules apply as with frontal attacks.

  • Maintain your balance
  • Stay as close as you can.  This is extremely important if attacked from the rear.  Since you wont be able to see your attacker, you want to be able to feel him so you know what he is doing.  Remember who your best friend is
  • Keep your chin tucked down towards your chest to avoid being choked
  • Stay calm
  • Shock the system
  • Once the attacker’s grip is loosened slightly, run
  • Make as much noise as possible

Self-Defense for Ground Attacks

If you are unfortunate enough to find yourself on the ground and having to defend yourself, don’t give up hope yet.

  • Stay close
  • Stay calm and be patient
  • Shock the system
  • Do not turn over onto your stomach
  • While lying on your back, keep your legs bent with feet planted firmly on the ground approximately 1 foot apart.  When the attacker’s grip is loosened, or he becomes distracted, thrust your hips into the air while pushing your feet into the ground, with as much force as possible.  The goal is to throw the attacker off balance enough so that you are able to escape. This is most effective if done immediately after shocking the system
  • Get up and run when his grip is loosened
  • make plenty of noise

In all types of attacks, if you are fortunate enough to escape your attacker whatever you do, do not stick around.  Escape the situation as soon as feasibly possible.

Shock the System

I have talked a great deal of the importance of “shocking the system”. There are various ways you can shock the system, none of which are for the faint of heart.  The trick to shocking the system is to catch your attacker off guard so that his grip will loosen enough for you to escape.  It you are able to achieve this, don’t waste time.  Run for your life! The following are some simple ways to shock your attackers system and through him off guard:

  • Spit in your attackers face
  • Poke or eye gouge
  • Punch your attacker in the throat
  • Punch or elbow your attacker in the kidneys
  • Clap your attacker’s ears with both of your hands as hard as you can
  • Hit/kick to the groin.  CAUTION:  If you choose to shock the system this way, be sure you hit the groin square on, otherwise, you will just make him angry
  • Kick  the shins
  • Stomp on the top of his foot (especially effective if wearing high heels)
  • Head butt.  This is best when being attacked from the rear

JUST ONE TIP: The most important thing to remember when having to defend yourself as a woman is to “shock the system”

Sensitive/Vulnerable Spots

The body has numerous sensitive spots, which are the spots you want to aim for whenever you are shocking the system.  Some of the most vulnerable spots are:

  • groin
  • eyes
  • throat (adams apple)
  • ears
  • bottom of nose
  • shins
  • kidneys
  • top of foot

If you are able to shock the system in any of these vulnerable areas, you will have a better chance of escaping.

the female solo traveller should learn some basic self-defense before travelling alone
Take a women’s self-defense class if you travel solo

Women’s Self-Defense for the Solo Traveller

This article is intended to outline the bare basics of women’s self-defense that you should be aware of when travelling solo (in addition to the precautions outlined in Let’s Get Ready for Take-off.)  If you choose to travel solo, it is always advisable to take a ladies self-defense class so that you can practice the moves, and learn how to effectively perform the self-defense techniques.  A black belt is not necessary when travelling solo, however having knowledge of some self-defense basics is not only smart, it is necessary.

It doesn’t matter how adept you are at self-defense, always remember that the best self-defense is AVOIDANCE, AWARENESS and CONFIDENCE.


Kelly xoxo


125 thoughts on “Self-Defense Tips for the Solo Female Traveller

  1. Sara

    These tips are great! I’ve been recently getting into women’s self defense and liked how thorough this was. I’ve read from other sources that it is good to strike the attacker’s, knees as well as the testicles. What are good effective techniques for striking the, knees, and testicles. I’ve heard to use to bottom of your toes (ball of the foot) when kicking a guy in the balls but not sure if that is correct. As well as grab twist and pull not sure if that is realistic or not. Maybe you could explain if and how they are effective and why? I also heard stomping their knee cap is good too. Great work, nice to learn from another women.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      Thank you. I for one would only strike a man in the balls if the situation was extreme and I had no other option. Reason….if you are going to do it, you better make sure you hit your target the first time otherwise you will just succeed in pissing him off. This is also the one spot that the attacker will anticipate being hit and the goal is to take him/her by surprise. With respect to the knee, this would also be a last resort as there are more effective areas to strike. The knee is a smaller target and you have to ensure that you hit the “soft spot” (nerve area). that’s just my own opinion.


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  14. Melanie

    This is important! As another solo female traveller, this is always in the back of my mind. Thanks for sharing these tips to remember in order to stay safe. I’m taking notes on how to “shock the system.”

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Barry

    I may be the only male to comment so far, but I have to say that I understand your reasons for this post.
    I am lucky in that I am a tall, confident, ex-green belt judo man and thus feel safe most of the time. I have been in several situations where I thought that if I was a less self-assured, non-fight trained female I may not have been able to get out of the situation easily.
    Totally agree of females and everyone, knowing how to defend themselves and be aware of how not to get into difficult situations.
    Great tips and advice here.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. thedctraveler9b7e4f7d4d

    These are so important! I never thought about staying close to the attacker. That’s an interesting point because our first instinct is to get away as fast as possible! I also love the tip of when you’re on the ground to try to thrust forward and knock them off. Never thought of that before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just One Passport

      Initially we do run….it’s only when they catch you that you want to stay close. It makes it more difficult for them to attack you when you are close to them, as well you have a better center of gravity and are more stable.


  17. Emma

    I would really like to take a women’s self defense class. I know as a solo traveler I should probably be more prepared and less in the “I’m sure it won’t happen to me” camp. Saving these tips as this was a really good read and very helpful I’m sure. Even if you can’t remember them all in the moment, just knowing about “shock the system” is a good start

    Liked by 1 person

  18. BlondeAroundTheWorld

    Excellent article and good tips. Not only for women traveling alone, but for women in general. As a woman traveler who often goes solo, it is extremely important to keep in mind that our integrity has to be taken care of. Thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Renee

    That’s pretty cool that you were a former instructor and a black belt! Having just returned from my 3rd solo trip, and one who goes into alleyways to get that perfect shot, I’ve often thought am I putting myself in harm’s way (not to mention carrying a pretty expensive camera). I will remember the tip of “shock the system”.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. JoJo’s Cup of Mocha

    Thank you so much for this informative post. It’s super important as women to be extremely cautious and aware when we’re by ourselves, whether we’re traveling solo or in every day life. Loved learning some of these tips, I just hope I never have to use them.

    Liked by 1 person

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